Michigan Rep. John James Seems to Think Trans Kids Are a Bigger Threat Than Guns

On Saturday, June 15, there were three mass shootings in the Metro Detroit area, where I live. At a house party in Lathrup Village, a gathering in Detroit and at a splash pad in Rochester, where little kids were shot.

The mayor of Rochester said that he never thought it would happen there. To which I must ask: Why not? Why, at this point in U.S. history, would anyone be surprised by a mass shooting anywhere in this country? It happens everywhere. To think it can’t happen in your backyard is delusional.

I watched a news interview with the Oakland County sheriff and standing behind him was John James, Republican U.S. Congressman for Michigan's 10th Congressional district. While the sheriff was talking, James looked absolutely clueless, his eyes darting around nervously. When reporters turned to James, he spoke as if he hadn’t just had lots of time to think of a response. He said something to the effect that we have to stop mass shootings. And yet James has received endorsements from the National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America for his opposition to common sense gun safety legislation.

Not surprisingly, James is no friend to LGBTQ+ people. During his failed 2018 run for U.S. Senator, the Human Rights Campaign declared that “he has no place in the U.S. Senate” because of his alignment with Mike Pence’s “extreme, anti-equality agenda.”

In 2023, James voted in favor of the Protection of Women and Girls in Sports Act, which sought to make a student’s participation in school athletics “based solely on a person’s reproductive biology and genetics at birth.”

In other words, the purpose of the bill is to keep transgender kids off of sports teams. You know, super important stuff to focus on while the world is falling apart around us.

James also proudly voted in favor of HR5, the Parents Bill of Rights Act, which is less about parental rights and more about conservative control in schools. It passed in the Republican-controlled U.S. House, but not in the U.S. Senate, which has a narrow Democratic majority.

According to CNN, HR5 would “require elementary and middle schools that receive federal funding to obtain parental consent before changing a minor child’s gender markers, pronouns, or preferred name on any school form; or allowing a child to change the child’s sex-based accommodations, including locker rooms or bathrooms.”

The purpose of HR5 is simply to harm transgender and non-binary kids. We all know that it is simply not safe for all such kids to come out to their parents. School should be a safe place for all kids to learn. And yes, that means that sometimes school needs to be a safe haven away from parents who do not love and accept their children for who they are.

Backers of these so-called parental rights bills are really only interested in protecting the rights of conservative parents and pushing a conservative agenda.

“Republicans across the country, arguing that discussions around race, gender identity and sexuality are inappropriate for young children, have used the banner of ‘parental rights’ to push for a curtailment of such conversations in schools,” CNN reports.

Becky Pringle, president of the National Education Association, told CNN, “Parents and voters agree that elected leaders should be focused on getting students the individualized support they need, keeping guns out of schools, and addressing educator shortages.”

Republicans claim to be all about “protecting kids” and yet have done nothing to actually protect kids. As Republicans see it, dangers facing kids are their transgender classmates, drag queens and learning about racism.

We know all too well, and are tragically reminded over and over again, that kids do, in fact, face very real dangers. Guns are a big one. And Republicans have absolutely no interest in the necessary reforms to make “being shot at a splash pad” a thing beyond the realm of imagination. Instead, Republicans claim that more guns are the answer and that the real problem is “mental health.”

But Republicans are focused on getting transgender volleyball players out of schools rather than passing widely popular gun safety measures and actually funding mental health care.

James won his election to Congress in 2022 by less than one percentage point. It’s time to end his congressional career.

And he’s not the only vulnerable Republican in the U.S. running for reelection. Let’s vote them out.